Published 18:19 ET 13th October 2018
SOUTH BEND – The parallels to 2012 continue to build.
Fifth Notre Dame improved with Saturday's 19-14 win over unweighted Pittsburgh to 7-0. It did not take a lot of overtime, as the 2012 meeting did, but the Irish stayed behind at Notre Dame Stadium most of the afternoon.
Ian's 35-yard touchdown pass to Miles Boykin with 5:43 was left to put the heavy favorites in the lead after a flawed game. It was the tenth home win for Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh hoped for the third time a top 5 team in so many years. In 2016, the Panthers knocked off No. 3 Clemson on the road in a 43-42 shootout, only to return in 2017 to overthrow No. 2 Miami 24-14.
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The arrival in Notre Dame had taken only two minutes, 13 seconds the whole season – all in the first quarter in Wake Forest on the 22nd of September. The Irish were no more than three full games (181: 40) before the Panther completed a 17-yard, 88-yard touchdown march that consumed nearly 10 minutes on the music box in the first quarter.
The Irishman held on to a 10-game losing streak as they completed the halftime until 12 September 2015. Then they climbed out of a 14-12 hole at Virginia and won 34-7 on DeShone Kizer's 39-yard touchdown pass to Will Fuller with 12 seconds remaining.
Three reasons why Notre Dame won:
For the second time in his young career, junior quarterback Ian Book threw some interceptions, though his arm was hit the second time. He also overtook Boykin in the end zone with a two-point conversion attempt that would have tied the score late in the third quarter. But Book, now 4-0 as the starter since the intervention for Brandon Wimbush, also led gate drives of 71 and 80 yards with the Irish facing a 14-6 deficit.
The opening line-up gave Maurice Ffrench a 99-yard touchdown return to open the second half, but second kicker Alex Kessman missed both field goal attempts (47 and 36 yards) in the second half, a much-needed space for To breathe. Last week, Syracuse in a 44-37 win, Kessman hit by 54, 55 and 45 yards, the last of which worked overtime with eight seconds left.
Rising cornerback Troy Pride Jr. positioned himself with a sprained ankle, forcing Junior Donte Vaughn to take his place. When Vaughn struggled early, freshman TaRiq Bracy came in and helped the Irishman, quarterback Kenny Pickett of the defense corral sophomore quarterback, who made his ninth career start but dropped to 0-4 on the road.